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I was the asshole!!!

"What the fuck? You fucking asshole!"

This just doesn't happen. I was headed home, staring straight ahead at the road. Surely I said nothing and did nothing to deserve these comments! The beginnings of fear had arrived, a fluttering stomach and quivering legs. Damn, these guys were ugly...and scary!

Two bedraggled men with medium builds, covered in agrarian tattoos, with shaved heads, earrings, one wearing a faded Camel T-shirt and the other a football jersey, drove up beside me and let me know - in no uncertain terms - that they were mad at me! I noticed the gottees, the unshaven, cratered faces. A shabby appearance says a lot, but a staring frown says a lot more! They looked mean as hell, and even being outside of their crappy little 1984 Chevy Citation, I could smell the overpowering waves of cigarette smoke and pot. Cigarette burns could be seen on the headrests and dashboard of the rattling and coughing, inspection-failing, automotive abomination they were driving, and it wasn't hard to notice the open Budweiser can in a cupholder. I thought to myself, "This might have been bad, but now it might be worse." Crazy low-lives bedeviled with road rage are dangerous enough, but deranged thugs who have gone high or drunk? Now I'm afraid for my life!

One of the jewels of getting older is that one becomes increasingly aware of his or her own mortality. It occurs to the partially enlightened middle-ager that any batshit moron stupid enough to pull up beside you and start yelling obscenities is just not very stable and may actually make you the next exorbitant road rage statistic and victim of a sidewalk head-stomping! Lying comatose in a pool of my own coagulating blood on a cold, hard sidewalk, having pictures taken of me by strangers is not exactly my idea of a dignified death!

The next few moments were spent scampering to do several things, the first was to try and drive while rapidly glancing over at the two fools who continued to point and swear at me to see whether or not they would decide to run me off the road! This was a moment to remember; mashing the brakes, narrowly avoiding an accident, I glanced around the cockpit of my 1989 Toyota van to find some sharp object that could serve as a makeshift weapon if the situation called for one. Since I can't outrun them in a 114 horsepower, four cylinder engine, and since they seemed intent on pursuing me through several stop lights, it seemed logical to prepare for one of those once-in-a-lifetime situations to go down. But along with the sweet, age-acquired wisdom of our own mortality comes the wisdom to calm down and do some quick thinking...

Perspectivizing, these guys aren't that big. I'm much bigger and should be able to whip them--well, probably one of them, but two? Alright, turns out I have a pocketknife. I can handle two of them, but they might have guns! If they do, I'm fucked! Can't take that chance. OK, there has to be an easier way than this! What, if anything, did I do to piss these guys off? Now that I thought about it, I did do something! Just after I exited the freeway, I cut them off, thought I had enough time to make that sharp right hand turn without making anyone slam on the brakes. I was wrong. My timing was bad. I could have unwittingly caused an accident. That was when they came flying up on my tail, honking, and giving me "the bird." These whackos may not be the sanest of ten thousand, but like it or not, I got myself into this trouble and it was up to me to get myself out.

It's kind of hard to explain; when you have a "light bulb" moment, a strange calm comes over you, an exhilarating peace of mind that eases the situation. From then on, I was on autopilot as I fessed up to the fact that I was indeed the fucking asshole they so impetuously called out! Slowing down, aligning myself directly across the car's passenger side window, I leaned out and said, "Sorry, guys. I didn't mean to cut you off. Damnit, I hate it when that happens! Sorry fellas, really, sorry."

They weren't expecting that. And much to my surprise, after the momentarily blank expressions left their faces, I saw a slight nod of respect from one of the men. I was pleased and relieved to see them turn off at the following intersection. To me, this gave refreshed meaning to the phrase, "Killing with kindness." I disarmed my opponents with a simple but formidable (and very often neglected) weapon--an apology. So if you are ever looking for a way to keep a foul-mouthed, drug-crazed hippie from fracturing your skull with a tire iron, the answer might not be found in the traditional middle-finger retorts and swear words we are so apt to use! When appropriate, a simple apology can damn a river of conflict.

(JH)

Comments

  1. To provoke people to anger with your own rudeness and then refer to them as "foul-mouthed, drug- crazed hippy" when they react is smug, presumptuous and arrogant. I am tempted to call you some names myself for your being so self-righteous - yuk!

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  2. Don't you think there is a way to handle anger properly? isn't there a way to channel it properly? I think so, and driving up, swearing and threatening someone is not exactly how it should be dealt with.

    (JH)

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  3. I am not one to presume I am superior to others simply because their reaction to my provocation offends my sensibilities. I am quick to apologize (without writing a huge essay about it) when I have made a mistake. I think you want to elevate yourself because you feel more civilized, more proper, than these guys when it was you who was improper and pushy to begin with. Just because their appearance and language scared you doesn't mean it wasn't warranted. I am not impressed.

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  4. I apologize - your writing is good - you should feel good that you were able to overcome fear to offer a peaceful resolution.

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  5. Ok, anonymous one and two must be the the two foul-mouthed, drug-crazed hippies.

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  6. And where does the impulse to apologize come from? Not from the atheist notion of survival of the fittest. That philosophy means that you have to ram them onto the side of the road and fight to the death.

    You describe -correctly- "turning the other cheek."

    Hmmm. Who was it that said that in the first place. I wonder. . .

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  7. That previous comment was supposed to have been signed: "HOODY".

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  8. As though an atheist can't show kindness out of the heart! When I do "good," it is because it is my good to do. My morals are my morals. If what you, "Hoody" are implying was true, and only god can inspire good morals, then no one could have been moral prior to those religions, which we know is clearly not true! Think, man, think!

    (JH)

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  9. "kindness out of the heart" ???

    "These whackos may not be the sanest of ten thousand"..."foul-mouthed, drug-crazed hippie from fracturing your skull with a tire iron" - These terms seem to more aptly explain your "heart"...

    How about this as a heartfelt apology......"Geez! I'm sorry about cutting so wrecklessly in front of you guys! Are you okay?"

    How about some actual heartfelt and courageous concern about those you endangered instead of the condescending manner in which you view those you endangered?

    Just think man think! You never would have met those two if you hadn't made the choice to take the risk you had in the first place! Even though they may have looked dangerous, you were the one that put them in danger..

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  10. True, no argument there, and I DID apologize as sincerely as I could. It's called a mistake, and we've all made them. But the fact remains, they were idiots, simpletons, unstable morons, and their crazy behavior demonstrated that. I'm just describing them as they came off. I get cut off all the time, but aside from leaning on the horn, I don't risk causing a wreck on account of my being pissed off. That's the underlying difference here, one you strangely don't seem to be aware of; you take sides with pot-smoking, profanity-using morons who probably just got out of jail and would have smacked me silly, and yet you'll fault a nice, mild-mannered person who does his best to drive kindly--even though I'm acknowledging my mistake, and even decided to make it into a lesson on apologies!

    (JH)

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  11. Willa CartwrightJuly 28, 2007 at 5:16 PM

    Hoody, you're a dickhead!

    It's not "turning the other check", it's admitting you're wrong.

    Joe did the right thing, and thankfully it disarmed the situation.

    The alternative was lying dead somewhere because he insulted the delicated sensibilities of someone who was "cut-off".

    What's next? Shooting someone because they took the car park you were thinking of taking? Ending someone's life because they insult your Mothers shoes?

    You're response is whacko because of Joe's althieism, not becuase of "what's right" - and - I sincerely doubt you would have had the presence of mind to apologize to two thugs in such a situation.

    You talk about "heartfelt" yet one must ask about how why you didn't say "Wow man! That was quick thinking! I'll use that as an example in the future.".

    NO, you asshole, you who has had hours or at least time to think about the situation has come up with a snappy response - "Be hearfelt!"

    You're a loser Hoody. If you were in the same situation it's doubtful you would have been quick-witted enough to survive.

    Don't forget, they were drinking beer and smoking pot - great driver responsibility!! Maybe the "Cut-Off" was not as dangerous as drug filled brains imagined it was - if they were sober they might have been just angry instead of ready to beat someone's skull in.

    Hoody, et a life! Loser!

    ReplyDelete

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